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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  July 21, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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many began their final flight, there is one final request. >> i want -- >> they can have everything but i want the body. >> i want the body. >> it is heart breaking to watch. that's it for the lead quarterback. i'm jim sciutto. i turn you over to wolf blitzer live from jerusalem. live from jerusalem. he's in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com happening now, this is a situation room special report. breaking news. the remains of hundreds of malaysia flight 17 passengers are being moved in eastern ukraine en route to amsterdam. dual crises. president obama grapples with the air disaster and the escalating fighting between israel and hamas. soaring death toll. the number of palestinians killed tops 500. israeli forces have seen more than two dozen deaths as international pressure for a cease-fire clearly grows. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in jerusalem.
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you're in "the situation room." we're following the two major breaking news stories. the fierce fighting between israel and hamas is gaza and the soaring death toll. also the downing of malaysia airlines flight 17. a train carrying the remains of hundreds of passengers is celled to arrive this hour in the ukrainian city of car keav. from there they'll it be flown to amsterdam. united nations security council has just unanimously approved a resolution demanding international access to the crash site and pro-russian rebels have agreed to hand over the plane's black boxes to malaysian investigators in eastern ukraine. we're covering all the breaking news with correspondents in israel, in gaza, in ukraine and washington and beyond. jim accost ta begins our coverage with more on the dual
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crises confronting president obama. jim, what's the latest? >> that's right, wolf. today president obama ramped up the rhetoric on vladimir putin call ong moscow to get a handle on the pro-russian rebels at the crash site in ukraine but at the point where we stand right now, it is not at all apparent that the russians are listening. >> in his most forceful comments since the crash of flight 17, president obama accused pro-russian rebels of engaging in a cover-up. >> as investigators approached they fired their weapons into the air. the separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. all of which begs the question, what exactly are they trying to hide. >> the burd the president said is now on russia. >> russia and president putin in particular has direct responsibility to the compel them to cooperate with the investigation. that is the least that they can do. >> russian officials are sticking by their own version of events just today saying their records show a ukrainian warplane might have been flying
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near flight 17 when it crashed. >> translator: no one should have the right use this tragedy to achieve selfish political objectives. such events should not divide but unite people. >> the west which is starting to form a united front isn't buying it. >> we must do what is necessary to stand up to russia and put an end to the conflict in ukraine before any more innocent lives are lost. >> the white house says the president will keep up the pressure on putin even as he's traveling out west this week for a series of fund-raisers recent risking more criticism from republicans. that he's not fully engaged. >> if it becomes clear there's a need for him to come back to the white house in order to fulfill the functions, we'll make a change in his schedule. it's not apparently that that's the case. >> but the president has another searing crisis to deal with. >> the israeli military operationings in gaza. the severity of that mission seemingly questioned by secretary of state john kerry in
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a hot mic moment. >> it's a hell of a pinpoint operation. >> still, mr. obama seemed to back that up noting his own worries about the blood shed. >> we have serious concerns about the rising number of palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of israeli lives. >> and the white house is now calling for what it calls greater steps to reduce civilian casualties. as for rush, the administration says it's running out of patience. i walked out of a briefing here at the white house. they were issuing some very tough talk aimed at russia. at one point one official said "the russians are doing themselves grave harm with these absurd statements referring back to russian explanations as to why flight 17 came out of the sky. wolf in. >> jim accost ta at the white house. thank you. the president certainly has per saysive new evidence to back up
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his harsher tone about russia's role in the disaster. barbara starr has new information. >> wolf, right now, one of the key unanswered questions is this. were there russian personnel there when the plane was shot down? could they have possibly launched the attack themselveses? u.s. intelligence community looking for any evidence that might have been the case. they don't know the answer yet but the dossier on moscow is being assembled. the u.s. intelligence on malaysia airlines flight 17 now pointing to russian involvement. >> we know that russia has armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons. key separatist leaders are russian citizens. >> they certainly have blood on their hands at the very least. >> the u.s. dossier to problem it, are assembled by military and intelligence analysts scouring data from spy satellites, radars and phone intercepts. it began when unknown to the world, russian rebels secretly
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moved a heavy arsenal of weapons into place. weapons that would lead to the shootdown accord cooing to u.s. intelligence. >> there was a convoy several weeks ago about 150 vehicles with armed personnel carrier, multiple rocket launchers, thanks, artillery, all of which crossed over from russia into the eastern part of ukraine and was turned over to the separatists. >> within minutes of flight 167 dropping off radar, the u.s. suspects a shootdown. experts narrowed in on two pieces of critical intelligence. first, a surface-to-air missile system had been activated in a separate controlled area in eastern ukraine. a moment later, a u.s. satellite captured the heat signature of a mid-air explosion. >> we detected a launch from that area and our trajectory shows that it went to the aircraft.
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>> the conclusion? a russian-supplied buk or sa-11 surface-to-air missile launcher shot down the flight. the evidence? u.s. verified telephone intercepts concluded the separatists had an sa-11 system as early as monday, july 14th. and further evidence of a russian connectioning? u.s. intelligence has now identified a facility just across the border inside russia where rebel fighters have been trained on surface-to-air missile systems. so is there any chance it could have been a missile launcher owned by ukraine? the united states says no. ukraine has a similar system, but none were in that area at the time. wolf? >> very incriminating evidence indeed. barbara, thank you at the pentagon. we're awaiting a potentially huge development in the crash investigation. cnn's phil black joins us from the eastern ukrainian city where
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pro-russian forces are expected to hand over the malaysian airliner's black botches. what's the very latest there, phil. >> well, wolf, we are still waiting. we've been invited to the headquarters of the so called the next people's republic. the headquarters of the pro-russian rebels. we were invited to witness the handover of those voice and data recorders from the rebels to malaysian officials who traveled here and who negotiated this handover. it was supposed to happen two hours ago. there is a crowded room full of frustrated journalists waiting to see this. it still has not happened. the expectation is it will happen tonight at some stage because that is what the malaysian prime minister has announced, wolf. >> and it's both black boxes, right? the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder, both black boxes as they're called. is that right. >> that's what we believe yes which it interesting because only yesterday the leadership of the of rebels were saying we
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have technical items that might be the black boxes but we're not sure. it seems they and the malaysians that negotiate the transfer believe very strongly they're about to get those voice and data recorders. >> and phil, tell us about the train carrying the bodies that have finally been recovered. what's the latest with that? >> it's heading north out of this region that is controlled by the rebels and that's really significant because that's what they've been trying to negotiate for some days now. it's heading north to the northeast city close to the russian -- under the control of the ukrainian government. from there they're going to be loaded on to military aircroft and thrown to the netherlands. that's where that important work of analyzing, cross referencing dna samples and ultimate lit identifying and returning the remains to families will take place, wolf. >> phil black on the scene for us. let us know when that handover of the black boxes takes place.
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we're following more breaking news. we'll go live to gaza where the fighting is escalating and the death toll climb. plus, my interview with the israeli officer. this is a situation room special report. [announcer] word is getting out. purina dog chow light & healthy is a deliciously tender and crunchy kibble blend. with 20% fewer calories than purina dog chow. isn't it time you discovered the lighter side of dog chow. purina dog chow light & healthy. for over 19 million people. [ susan ] my promotion allowed me to start investing for my retirement. transamerica made it easy. [ female announcer ] everyone has a moment when tomorrow becomes real. transamerica. transform tomorrow.
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we're live here in jerusalem follow the breaking news in the fighting. in gaza, about 550 palestinians
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have been killed since the latest conflict began, 77% civilians. our senior international correspondent ben wedeman is in gaza for us. what are you hearing about there could be a cease-fire announced in cairo as early as tomorrow? >> wolf, we've checked with hamas officials here in gaza this evening who referred us to i a position paper they put out earlier saying they are not ready at this point to the accept anything along the lines of the egyptian mediation, the egyptian cease fire offered a few days ago. they say they welcome an egyptian role in trying to mediate some sort of cessation of hostilities, but nothing from them at this point. beat do note that mahmoud abbas, the palestinian president in ramallah is in contact with qatari and egyptian officials and, of course, secretary kerry is on his way to cairo, but here
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in gaza, not a lot of upbeat talk about any possibility of the fighting coming to an end in the immediate future. wolf in. >> yeah, i've chicagoed with my sources in the prime minister's office here in jerusalem. and they're suggesting that these reports may be very, very premature as well. the israeli military operation clearly continuing. and on the ground where are you in gaza, ben, there seems to be no end in sight at least right now. right? >> no, and at this very moment, outside our window, it is quiet. however, there have been a series of strikes in gaza city this evening on a building just a few hundred meters up the street from us where 11 people were killed, mo are more than 40 people wounded. we've seen fairly intense bombardment in the northern and southern parts of the neighborhood. so no real letup. death toll well over 550 at this
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point. about 3,500 wounded. so talk of peace may be encouraging some people to hope for a change. but the reality outside is quite the opposite. wolf in. >> yeah. and israeli, the israel defense forces announced today there there are seven israeli soldiers were killed today bringing the number of israeli soldiers killed to 25. ben, thanks very much. let's bring in cnn political analyst josh rogin, a senior national security correspondent for "the daily beast." josh,ings you're reporting for "the daily beast" that the u.n. relief and, would agency gave what, be 20 rockets they found in one of their u.n. schools in gaza over to hamas. . the u.n. denying it saying they were given to some bomb disposal experts. so tell viewers what precisely you're hearing. >> a quick clarification. john kerry has arrived in egypt
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and meeting with the secretary-general of the u.n. ban ki-moon. as for the situation with the u.n. agency in gaza, they announced last wednesday that they found 20 rockets that i learned that they gave them over to the local bomb squad run by the local police. there's a dispute. u.n. says the local police report to palestinian authorities in ramallah. the israeli government privately but not publicly is telling everybody that they actually report directly to hamas. there's a good chance that those rockets are back into circulation and could be fired against israel. the significance of course, is that these civilian areas and international organization buildings inside gaza are alleged to be places where hamas is storing and firing weapons from. on the other hand, there home run also plays where palestinian civilians are seeking relief and hope and pray that they are safe from the israeli bombardment of gaza. >> josh rogin, with that report, josh, thanks very much.
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>> you bet. >> israel's minister of intelligence, thanks very much for joining us. let's talk about the current situation. it's an ugly situation. you've said and correct me if i'm wrong, you've said israel will take whatever is necessary to bring that security to israel including the possibility of retaking all of gaza. what does that mean? >> nobody's enthusiastic. actually we didn't have any interest in this round of violence. it started two weeks ago out of the hamas begins barrages of rockets into our territory. one week ago, there was an egyptian call for a cease-fire. hamas rejected and continued to launch rockets in our cities. we have the right and duty to the defend ourselves. >> including reoccupying the gaza strip? you know what that means? >> i hope we will be able to avoid it. but if hamas will force us. if they will continue to launch rockets against tel aviv and
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jerusalem day after day, night after night, in the end, we have no choice. let me remind you that gaza was supposed to be completely demilitarized. that we pull out of gaza, there were clear palestinian commitment by mahmoud abbas, abu mazen, there will be no rockets, no -- once israel is out of gaza. there was also agreement signed on the white house lawn, clear palestinian commitment that of gaza will remain forever demilitarized. >> you're not ruling that out the reoccupation of gaza. talk about another threat from the north. hezbollah threat in i thinking to come to hamas's support and start firing rockets into israel into the north. is that a credible threat? >> i hope not. we are following very carefully. hezbollah is now heavily involved in the civil war in syria with many casualties. you know, we in israel, this is
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a little democracy's attempt to the survive in the middle of the most difficult problematic neighborhood on face of earth, we are prepared for everything and if needed to defend ourself also in the north and to strike back there. the death readiness is very strong and clear. >> the idf, israel defense forces would be ready for a two-front war if necessary? >> it's happened in the past. i hope it won't happen now. we hope sooner or later to end this round of violence in gaza. but we will defend ourself come what may. >> how much of hamas and its rockets, missiles, its military is funded or directly supplied by iran? >> a lot. most of the missiles. not all but most of the rockets that are 2,000 can the ros just to remind nut last two weeks that were launched from gaza into israel in our cities and towns are iranian made rockets. some are produced in gaza
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itself. so far we managed to deliver very heavy blow to hamas military infrastructure, to the rockets, to the rockets industry and to the -- between gaza and israel but hamas is still there. >> israeli soldiers already have been killed. >> it's a very heavy price. many israelis' families and many were injured. i visited today some off the soldiers. >> are they stronger than you thought, hamas and their ieds? they've been preparing for this potential assault by israel for a long time? >> no we were very aware. since weise withdraw from gaza, instead we pull out from gaza. it was extremely painful. nine years ago we uprooted all the jewish settlements in gaza and pull out. we hope to promote peace and coexistence. instead in gaza, hamas establish
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a terror army violating all the demilitarization commitments. now we have to fight back. people have to bear this in mind. the core of the problem is not they are launching missiles. why do they have thousands of missiles in the first place when according to the oslo agreement it was supposed to remain totally demilitarized. >> the israeli intelligence community thought they had about 10,000. they've used 2,000 already. israel says apparently it's destroyed another 3,000. do they still have 5,000 in their arsenal? >> i think this is what we estimate that approximately we destroyeded about 50%. they're left with 50% or less of the rockets. and also we destroyed maybe about 50% more of the tunnels. so this is a very heavy blow to the military infrastructure but they still have the capacity to launch rockets as you saw today. >> there's a report that the
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united nations operation unra in gaza found about 20 of these rockets. instead of destroying them they gave them to a police forces in gaza. do you know anything about that? ing. >> yeah, they reported also to us. >> who reported it to you. >> the u.n. >> what did they say. >> we saw the pictures. it's very clear you see many missiles in a classroom. but this is not the only case. you know what is so ugly about this war is not only the that hamas people -- this is a terrorist organization by the way basic ideology like al qaeda or isis in iraq. but they're not only eager to hit and to kill israeli civilians, they are eager also to increase the number of palestinian civilians. you know, we are the people -- we asked the people several times leave the neighborhood because we will have to operate against underground tunnels in
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your neighborhood and rockets, stockpiles. leave the neighborhood. change their life. >> they say there's no safe place to go in gaza. such a small area. >> no. most of them left but hamas asked them to stay and in some cases they even threatened don't leave, stay and wait for the israeli operation. >> we're out of time. what did the united nations do with those missiles they found? did they hand them over to a hamas police force. >> i can tell you they didn't destroy them and didn't deliver it to us. >> do you know what they did with them? >> i have to check. i assume this would have been done, that they asked this em to take them out of the classroom. but look, let me -- i want to reemphasize one thing again. hamas is shooting can the ros and missiles and refuse to accept the egyptian cease fire proposal. this is true and they're responsible to the suffering of
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most israelis and palestinian civilians on other side of the border. once gaza will be demilitarized again, this will be the end of a lot of the suffering not just in israel but also in gaza. abu mazen gave clear commitment that gaza will remain demilitarized. and look what the results. >> hamas won that election and they took charge. minister, unfortunately we're out of time. thank you so much forevering us. >> you are most welcome. minister of intelligence yuval steinmetz. appreciate it. >> and coming up, we'll get palestinian reaction to the breaking news. isle speak live with a key member of the palestinian parliament, dr. mus tas fa bar buddy is standing by. we'll talk about this growing crisis. also, could an anti-missile defense system have saved ma laboreral flight 17? should they be on all commercial air raft?
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long-standing warning against travel to the gaza strip. once again, the state department just issuing a travel warning american citizens this is not a good time to come to israel. the west bank certainly not to the gaza strip. we're also following the other breaking news. the increasingly deadly fighting between israel and hamas. 57% of americans asked think the israeli offensive in gaza is justified according to a brand new cnn/orc poll just released. 39% feel israel is using too much force in gaza. 12% say too little force, 43% feel the israeli action is about right. we just spoke to the israeli minister of intelligence. now let's get the palestinian perspective. dr. mustafa barghouti, a founder of the palestinian national initiative. dr. barghouti joins us from ramallah right now. first of all, i'm anxious to get
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your reaction to those poll numbers, this new poll, american attitudes to what's going on. what's your reaction? >> well, it's unfortunate that the american public thinks this way, but i think unfortunately, the american public is a victim of the mediaia in the united states which is to a large extent dominated by the israeli narrative. they keep receiving the same narrative. that's why i think this is unfair to palestinians and unfair to the american public itself, which is entitled to knowing the truth and the truth is that the israeli government is acting in a criminal way against its own people, against the israeli soldiers who are killed and against the palestinian population. what happened in gaza during the last ten days is nothing but a massacre. 550 palestinians have been killed so far. 150 of them are children. and we are now losing
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palestinians mostly civilians at a rate of 100 per day. this has to stop. by the way, let me tell you, i've just received information from gaza that people in gaza and everybody there are asking for humanitarian cease fire which was presented. and israeli is still not responding to have because they have so many bodies that they cannot take out under the rubble. >> let me ask you about that. there are reports that a cease-fire could be announced in cairo as early as tomorrow. you're hearing that that is -- would hamas, which rejected the earlier egyptian sponsored cease fire, israel accepted that one, would hamas accept this new cease fire? >>. >> hamas has just told me that they accept the cease-fire but israel still did not give an answer. that's the truth and that's the reality. and they are still waiting for an answer from israel. meanwhile, let me tell you in the west bank, things are
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exploding. we've just received information that the israeli army have shot with live ammunitions 25 palestinians who were peacefully protesting in hebron and two palestinians have been killed by the israeli army, one in jerusalem, also during a demonstration and another civilian palestinian was shot by the an israeli settler in hebron. and the number of people killed now in the west bank is increasing. not just in gaza. and the root of the problem is unfortunately overlooked by israeli ministers which is the fact that we are under occupation and solving the problem of occupation by increasing the occupation now and reoccupying gaza is not a solution. this would only complicate the matters further. and what is happening is totally unacceptable. trying to dehumanize palestinians and claim that they are inviting the israeli army to
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kill them is unacceptable. also a comparison is very clear. 560 palestinians killed. mostly civilians. versus 27 israelis killed. 25 of them are soldiers. and all these rockets did not kill anybody. i don't want any israeli or palestinian to be killed. but this must be stopped. war is not a solution. >> dr. >> aggression is not a solution. >> i want to get back to the news that you're sharing with our viewers around the world right now. and i want to be precise, dr. barghouti because this is potentially very significant. you're now saying you have heard through the, i guess your sources through the palestinian authority and hamas that hamas is now ready to accept an immediate cease fire put forward by egypt but what you're saying is israel has not yet responded. i just want to be precise on that. >> no, no, you didn't get me
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right. i'm saying that there is, there are negotiations now about a humanitarian cease fire which would be for several hours till negotiations continue about an overall cease fire and this humanitarian cease fire is very much needed because there are so many bodies under the rubble that will israel has caused. and the people, the first aid people and the ambulances are unable to reach these people and maybe there are many injured there who cannot receive treatment. so there is a need for an immediate humanitarian cease fire and israel still has not. >> how long woulding that humanitarian cease fire last? >> meanwhile -- it should start in the morning and last till 3:00 p.m. as i understood. but meanwhile, negotiations continue about cease fire. and a lasting cease fire which would include also lifting the siege on gaza because the siege
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on gaza is causing very severe humanitarian crisis. we are talking about a situation where 90% of the people cannot get drinkable water. we are talking about a situation where most of the people do not get electricity more than six or eight hours a day. now about 300,000 of them don't get electricity at all. 90% of the educated young people in gaza are unemployed because of the siege. and the poverty level is very high. there is a need to end not only the war, not only to have a cease-fire but also to lift the siege that is imposed on gaza. >> all right. we've got to leave it there. dr. barghouti, i'll check back with you tomorrow. joining us from ramallah on the west bank with word that hamas is ready to accept a humanitarianian limited number of hour cease fire as early as tomorrow morning. we'll get reaction. doctor, thanks very much.
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also coming up, should united states airliners follow the lead of israel's el-al and equip those planes with missile deflecting technology? we're go to take a closer look. also coming up, we'll have a special report live from gaza as the death toll there jumps higher. stay with us. lots of news happening today right here in "the situation room." when folks think about what they get from alaska, they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america.
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>> we're live here in jerusalem
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following the breaking news here in the region, also the breaking developments in ukraine. the deaths of 298 innocent people in the downtowning of malaysia airlines flight 17 is generating a lot of talk whether u.s. passenger jets and other passenger jets around the world should be equipped with missile avoidance systems. brian todd is joining us with details. brian is in washington. >> this is the kind of technology that only a fuel large passenger planes have today including air force one. but important questions are now being raised. are more passengers now vulnerable to this new threat and can they be protected? as crews sift through the wreckage of malaysia air flight 17, concerns are growing more commercial airliners could be vulnerable to attacks like this. >> of course, after this attack, there's going to be increasing pressure to put some kind of defense system on commercial airliners. >> u.s. senator mark kirk is worried about the safety of american passengers calling on the faa "to install counter
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measures on commercial planes." those systems could have prevented this. on november 2003 attack on a dhl cargo plane over baghdad. it managed to land safely. israel already has counter measures on its el-al planes developed after terrorists launched a shoulder fired missile and barely missed an israeli passenger jet in 2002. on the israeli planes a laser moves toward a missile and deflects it away. but those are designed to count ker only simpler shoulder fired missiles. to fend off more sophisticated radar guided missiles, one possible counter measure according to experts in various reports could be fired from the commercial plane in a canister that would burst open and send out what's called chaff, metal confetti. >> reflective aluminum particles create a cloud much larger than
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the aircraft. this cloud distracts the missile because the radar cross section of the cloud is much bigger than that of the aircraft. so the missile is thrown off target. >> experts say it's only for a few seconds before the missile could lock back onto the aircraft. installing and maintaining systems would be difficult. they could easily pull planes off the tarmac and cancel flights when they malfunction. they're enormously expensionive. >> the low ball estimate is $1 million per aircraft to build such a system. >> former fighter pilots tell us it is not safe for commercial pilots to deploy the chaff canisters. once that is an shoots out an distracts the missile, the pilot of the plane has to take ababrupt evasive maneuvers. that's practical in a fighter jet but on a huge commercial plane, that could endanger the passengers. wolf? >> brian todd with that report. thank you. is equipping airliners with these missile defense systems the answer to keeping all of us who fly safe in the sky?
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let's bring in our aviation correspondent richard quest. should passengers, richard, passenger jets have these missile defense systems? >> no in a word. they are expensive. they are extremely complicated. and the operation of them requires skills and technology that will are most unsuited to commercial pilots and to commercial airlines. the simple fact is, when do you deploy the chaff? when do you use the counter measures? it's by the time a missile is coming up, it's too late. and certainly a commercial pilot is not in a position and if you're going to have the plane doing it on its own, that's another kettle of fish completely. in short, wolf, it's a very bad idea. >> switching gears, what about that area where the malaysian airliner crashed, was shot down? has that entire search air effectively been compromised? >> i think it's certainly been compromised 37 whether it's been
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about compromised to the point of uselessness, i don't think that's the case. the australian foreign minister speaking at the united nations said there will still be sufficient residue. there will still be sufficient evidence to reduce the number of options. it would take a lot more contamination before we would be able to say it was no longer of any purpose. no, they're going to find out what happened here, wolf. and they will find it through the residue on the bodies, and also on debris that's there. >> richard quest, thanks very much for that. always helpful on these issues. coming up, more of the breaking news in our situation room special report. we're going back to live to ukraine eight waing the handover of the flight's black boxes and we're also live in jerusalem following all the breaking news. your 16-year-old daughter studied day and night for her driver's test. secretly inside, you hoped she wouldn't pass.
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i would. switch to comcast business internet and get the fastest wifi included. comcast business. built for business. we have much more ahead on today's news breaking stories in ukraine and the middle east. we're also hearing exclusively from former president bill clinton who warned us peace negotiators will have a hard time getting close to a deal as he did late in his presidency when it comes to israel and the palestinians. and he had a surprising answer when asked about his wife's political future. >> the question on everybody's lips is hillary clinton, your wife, going to run for president in 2016? can you answer that? >> no, i don't know. this has been the first free time she's had in a long time. we reached a point in our lives
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when we think you really shouldn't run for office if you don't have a clear idea of what you can do and a unique contribution you can make and you can outline that. i'm proud of her, whatever she does is fine with me. i'll support whatever she does. >> what's your advice? >> she hasn't asked me yet. >> really? >> no. no. >> let me ask you, what sort of president would she be? >> she would be really good. she's the ablest public servant i ever worked with. it's a decision that only she can make and i'm not going to try to jump the gun and if she decides not to do it, i'll be happy too. when i left the white house and hillary went into the senate in new york, i told her, i said, for 26 years, you made a lot of
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sacrifices for my public life. so i'll give you the next 26 years, and if i'm still around, we'll fight about what we're going to do after that. we're a little over halfway through the second 26 years and whatever she wants is fine with me. >> president clinton. much more of our "situation room" special report going back live to ukraine where hundreds of bodies of passengers are now being moved and we're live in jerusalem monitoring conflicting reports about a possible, possible cease-fire between israel and hamas. ♪ norfolk southern what's your function? ♪ ♪ hooking up the country helping business run ♪ ♪ trains! they haul everything, safely and on time. ♪ tracks! they connect the factories built along the lines. and that means jobs, lots of people,
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happening now, a "situation room" special report. breaking news here in the middle east. the new cease-fire effort is under way with the u.s. playing a key role as israeli and hamas attacks take more lives. stand by for my interview with the prime minister benjamin netanyahu. and new movement at the malaysia aircraft site. bodies are being transferred but investigators say russian backed rebels still are standing in the way and president obama is asking what are they hiding? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world.
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i'm wolf blitzer in jerusalem. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following two breaking stories this hour. stand by for the very latest from ukraine on the investigation into the downing of malaysia flight 17 but first, powerful new evidence of just how dangerous it is here in the middle east right now. the state department just issued a travel warning for all u.s. citizens about the risks of visiting israel. as well as gaza and the west bank after another bloody day of attacks and now secretary of state john kerry is on the ground. there are conflicting reports about whether there's been progress. we have correspondents around the globe and analysts and top news makers to try to bring you all of these huge stories as only cnn can. let's begin this hour with a wrap of the latest developments in the battle between israel and hamas.
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israeli forces are barreling ahead with their deadly assault on hamas targets in gaza. they caught militants sneaking into israel through an underground tunnel to attack civilians that live nearby. the tunnel was later destroyed and israel says ten hamas fighters were killed. this as the united states announced an urgent and immediate end to the fighting. >> it's our focus and that of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends fighting and can stop the deaths of innocent civilians both in gaza and in israel. >> secretary of state john kerry left for truce talks in egypt after a spike in the bloodshed. the palestinian death toll climbing above 500 including new claims of civilian casualties when a gaza hospital was hit by
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shelling. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu tells me hamas is to blame for civilian deaths on both sides by using human shields in gaza and targeting israeli cities with rocket fire. >> we're sad for every civilian casualty. they're not intended. this is the difference between us. the hamas deliberately targets civilians and deliberately hides behind civilians. >> israel says seven more troops were killed today in addition to 13 killed over the weekend. two were israeli americans with dual citizenship. israel is investigating a claim by a hamas spokesman that an israeli soldier has been captured. the unconfirmed report appeared to spark a celebration in gaza. another ominous new development, a leader of the lebanese militant group hezbollah reached out to hamas to express support
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adding to fears that israeli forces may face a wider war on a second front. let's go live to gaza right now. our senior international correspondent ben wedeman is there. what are you hearing about conflicting reports? we heard a palestinian parliame parliame parliamentarian saying they agreed to cease-fire tomorrow morning until 3:00 in the afternoon but israelis have not responded. what are you hearing from hamas in gaza? >> reporter: we're hearing these rumors but hamas has yet to actually say something that we can report. there have been rumors also that some sort of three-day cease-fire would begin tomorrow. people here are really sort of grabbing at rumors and grabbing at straws hoping for some sort
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of cessation if only temporary to the hostilities but a we understand, for instance, that hamas leaders are talking intensely about the possibilities raised by secretary's visit to cairo. it's important to keep in mind that really the egyptians hold the key in this. they control the border between gaza and egypt. they traditionally have very good contacts with hamas even though the relations have chilled over the last year but they do have channels and they do have means of pressure to work out some sort of agreement but hamas at the moment has been fairly addiment about holding to a long list of demands which include lifting of what they call the siege, the block aade gaza and removal of buffer zones where farmers cannot cultivate their land near the border with israel and on those things
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there's simply -- they say if we don't get satisfaction on those demands, we're not signing onto a cease-fire they're saying. >> ben wedeman in gaza. thanks very much. joining us now is the spokesman for the israel defense forces, lieutenant colonel peter learner. thank you for joining us. is it true there's a humanitarian cease-fire that will go into effect 6:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning until 3:00 p.m. is what we were told that hamas has signed off on that. >> one thing that was repetitive in ben's report is rumors. we get an order and we have a chain of command and it's very clear. we haven't gotten that order at this time. we have proven time and time again when it has come down we held our fire, we cease fire, we respect that. >> hamas has accepted and israel
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has not reacted formally given reaction to this latest egyptian initiative. it wouldn't be a full scale cease-fire. just a humanitarian truce for a few hours. >> we've carried these out in the recent days. we haven't received that order in the chain of command. if it happens, we'll hold our fire. >> if it does happen, israel would be open to that? >> we have done it in recent days. >> just humanitarian and deal with longer term cease-fire down the road and are open to that as well under the right terms? >> it happened over recent days. no reason it couldn't happen tomorrow if there's a necessity for it and we can carry that out. >> from your perspective, how is this ground assault working out? >> we are happy. we're confident that we're moving forward. we're obtaining our goals. it's a slow mission. we realize that with the gradualness and need to move one step at a time forward to address the tunnels that are even this morning and this evening posing a serious threat
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against our security. with four people killed in an attack this morning that originated through these tunnels. it's unacceptable. these tunnels need to be dealt with. we're dealing with them. we're destructing them with explosives and finding them in the ground and we are addressing that threat. we're also addressing the threat of rockets and indeed i can indicate there has been a decline in the amount of rockets that have been coming over but still they are shooting rockets indiscriminately at tel aviv at the central of israel. it's a problem. >> you lost 25 israeli soldiers over the past few days. a small country. 25 soldiers. a lot of soldiers as far as the concern. is hamas putting up greater resistance than you anticipated? >> the score of activities is based on iran. they have the same education and same training plans and they train with them. they train with hezbollah. it's the time of terrorism we prepared for. we know that they have been
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training for this confrontation so we were not surprised and expected this type of conflict. our job as military is to put ourselves between the terrorists and our civilians. that's our job. it is inevitable heavy price to pay but we have to be there for our civilians. we have to put ourselves there. that's our job. >> it's been 24 hours since hamas announced they captured an israeli soldier. is that true? >> i can't confirm that at this time. the circumstances of the battle that he was supposedly abducted or taken or kidnapped is very sketchy and very unclear. there is a lot of questions that still need to be answered on this case. we are looking into it. we are speaking to the families. we are carrying out forensic investigations. when we have an announcement on this issue, we'll make it public. we have a track record being truthful and coming forward and putting cards on the table.
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>> you would know if israeli soldiers in gaza are accounted for? >> the circumstances of the combat situation of the battle that took place, the outcome, the carnage, we don't have a clear answer at this time. >> it may or may not be true and still being investigated by israel? >> we are investigating it and looking into the circumstances. the forensic investigation is still undecided and we will make an announcement shortly. >> there's also confusion about whether or not the united nations operation in gaza found some hamas rockets in a u.s. facility and then handed those rockets over to hamas. are you familiar with those stories? >> i saw the u.n.'s press release. they said that there were 20 rockets in one of their schools, an abandoned school and they passed them onto the authorities, the authorities in gaza is hamas. they probably already launched those at us. >> but they also say they gave those rockets to a police force that's really aligned with the palestinian authority and not necessarily hamas.
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do you buy that? >> i think hamas is the sole responsible authority in gaza. they are carrying out all of the activities, all of the police forces there are subordinate to them. they are all participating in this aggression against israel. >> to be precise on the humanitarian cease-fire what you're saying is you have not received -- the idf has not received word from the political leadership to go ahead and cease-fire as of early tomorrow morning? >> we have not received that in the chain of command. we have done in the past held our fire. unfortunately most times when we held our fire, it's been met with rockets. >> peter lerner, lieutenant colonel, thank you for joining us. joining us on the phone is the chief arab investigator joining us from qatar whe. what can you tell us about the
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cease-fire that may be in the works starting tomorrow morning? >> i know that secretary-general is working very hard on this. he wants a humanitarian cease-fire for hours and i know that the idea is being looked at by everyone and i hope he will manage to pull this tomorrow morning. >> we spoke in the last hour with someone you know well who was joining us from ramallah, a palestinian parliamentarian. he says hamas accepted that humanitarian cease-fire going in effect tomorrow morning until 3:00 p.m. local time. israel has not yet responded. have you heard anything along those lines to back up what we heard? >> i believe that he's a credible man and he may have been in touch with hamas and heard it directly. i know that we were meeting with the secretary-general and he said i introduced the idea and
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then we fully back it and i hope it will be honored tomorrow morning by both sides. >> they both agree to this -- this would be a temporary cease-fire for a few hours. it wouldn't be much longer than that is your understanding? >> that's my understanding. today we met for a few hours with representative from hamas and also the mayor of qatar. i think the balance here is very sensitive. i believe what we should look at is not the chicken or the egg, egg or chicken, there should be a balance established between cease-fire, a full cease-fire and lifting the siege. we understand the deliberation is that gaza is under attack by guns and cannons and tanks and airplanes and at the same time
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the siege is affecting the lives 1.5 million palestinians. secretary kerry is in cairo. we were in touch with hamas leaders. i believe we should look at ways to find the balance between the cease-fire and lifting the siege. i heard it from hamas yesterday they are not against the egyptian role. what they want to see is balance created between the cease-fire and lifting the siege and they cannot continue to live under the siege so i hope that everyone will focus on this balance which is not gettingyie.
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this is on israel from 2005. this was an agreement reached in 2012. i believe we focused on the balance between the cease-fire and not for hours but a permanent cease-fire if we can match this with lifting the siege in accordance with the 2012 agreement brokered by egypt between gaza and government of israel. >> we keep hearing president obama say he wants that cease-fire the same cease-fire that occurred at the end of 2012, the last time israel and hamas were fighting, he would like to see that reinstated right now. i'll check back with you tomorrow. we'll see if there's a cease-fire and the killing at least temporarily would stop. we're all over this story. we're staying on top of the breaking news. still ahead, we're tracking those black boxes from malaysia
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flight 17 and whether pro-russian rebels are following through and handing them over to the authorities. stand by. we'll also get a live update on the access to the crash site from a top official with the international group that has monitors on the scene. more of our special report just ahead. so, your site gave me this "credit report card" thing. can i get my actual credit report... like, the one the bank sees? [ male voice ] sheesh, i feel like i'm being interrogated over here. [ male voice ] she's onto us. dump her. [ pay phone rings ] hello? oh, man. that never gets old. no, it does not. [ female announcer ] not all credit report sites are equal. experian.com members get personalized help and a real credit report. join now at experian.com with enrollment in experian credit tracker.
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but with pamprin, a period means sgo!! pain relievers only relieve pain. multi-symptom pamprin relieves all your symptoms. so there's no stopping you. period. welcome back. we're following the breaking news in jerusalem but we're also following other breaking news developments out of ukraine. one concerning those critical black boxes that were aboard malaysia airlines flight 17. the other concerns the people onboard. phil black is joining us now on the phone from donetsk in eastern ukraine.
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what's going on right now, phil? >> reporter: as i speak, a ceremony, a very public, open ceremony is under way here in the headquarters of the pro-russian rebel movement where the leader of that movement is in a very public way again handing over the flight recorders, the voice and data recorders from flight 17 to a delegation from malaysia. it's quite a spectacle. it's being done very openly and deliberately. we've been waiting for some three hours for this to happen. it was supposed to happen some time ago. he came out and gave a long speech about how the rebel movement had done the best they possibly could in terms of retrieving bodies and handling the wreckage and so forth and is now handing over these flight recorders which they have been safe keeping, they say, to the malaysian government with the understanding the information will be shared with the world and in particular with aviation experts around the world. wolf, that's because they say they do not trust ukrainian
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government to handle this properly. wolf? >> but there's no guarantee, is there, that those black boxes haven't been tampered with? i know that some u.s. aviation experts were concerned. we'll know soon enough once the real experts get access to the flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder, but right now you say they're doing it in some sort of formal ceremony, is that right? >> reporter: yes, that's right. they called it a big media event and invited international media in this region at the moment which is quite a contingent obviously given the events here and they're trying to make a very public display of cooperation. it's clearly the message that is being sent out by doing this in this way. the language, the actions, the sentiment of it all is that this rebel movement is doing all that it possibly can to help the victims and to help the world understand what happened. obviously we know the feeling around the world is going to be cynical toward that idea. president obama himself today
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said what are these people trying to hide? well, if indeed they are acting with the best of intentions, questions will be asked of course why did they remove the flight recorders from the wreckage in the first place and why did they deny having them as recently as yesterday. when you look up close at these devices, they very clearly say flight recorder. there's no doubting what these things were. for some days now this rebel movement has denied they had them in their possession and now they're making a public statement about supposed willingness to assist the international community in recovering these and find out just what happened to this aircraft. >> certainly says that. i've seen those flight data recorders, cockpit voice recorders, we call them black boxes, they're not black at all. they're orange. made in the usa. this is a boeing 777. we'll stay in touch with you, phil. let's get immediate reaction. we have the u.s. representative for organization for security and cooperation in europe. ambassador, give us the reaction
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to what we just heard from phil black with the ceremony handing over from pro-russian rebels, if you will, handing over the two black boxes. >> well, wolf, i mean, on one hand obviously the goal is to get the black boxes and of course the bodies -- there are hundreds of families who have been waiting for four painful days to find out a little bit about where their loved ones are and bring them home and say good-bye and get closure. obviously the black boxes are part of telling the story of the flight and so on the one hand that's a good turn of events obviously if the black boxes are handed over eventually to the international authorities who can analyze them, et cetera, and we hope bodies are on their way home. on the other hand, this is a continuation of a kind of circus that we've seen before and the questions that phil raised about why they were removed from the wreckage site in the first place. we've seen over the last four
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days a very distressing number of behaviors at the crash site where pieces of the crash have been removed, belongings picked through, and our heart breaks for those mourning loved ones lost on this flight. >> all right. osce monitors who are there, i know they are getting horrible, horrible treatment the first couple days, are they now getting full access. is it still modest? >> the first day in particular they showed up and had terrible treatme treatment. i'm told that it has better each day they've gone back. they were allowed more latitude today. they actually visited the cars, the train cars that had been
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loaded with bodies and along with dutch recovery experts sealed those so they could make the trip. i think what needs to happen going forward, the crash site is very large as you've heard and it needs to be secured and there needs to be full, unfettered access for an international investigation to come in and that needs to be provided immediately. one of the things i saw that president putin came out with a statement this morning saying he supported an unfettered international investigation. the question is why have we lost those painful four days if he cared about unfettered international investigation, we shouldn't have lost that time and he should have used his influence immediately over separatist to make sure nothing had been disturbed and no time was lost in being able to get loved ones recovered. >> ambassador, hold on for one moment. jim sciutto is joining us.
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you are speaking to a lot of officials in washington about the russian connection if there was a russian connection to takedown of this plane. >> i think you have everything but the jury verdict from the perspective of u.s. officials. they have established based on their intelligence that this was a russian made missile system that came from ukrainian side of the border fired from rebel controlled areas and in fact russians supplied the weapons system and trained ukrainians on how to use the weapons system. the only question they are looking into is whether russians were present when the missile was launched. the case is built very strongly and very quickly from the u.s. perspective leaving very little question at least from the perspective of u.s. intelligence agencies and u.s. officials that russia bears some of the responsibility for this. >> where do we go from here, ambassador? it is haeartbreaking. you speak to family members and see what's going on.
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they haven't recovered all of the bodies there. what's next in this whole miserable situation? >> well, obviously our sympathies and warmest wishes and deep sadness is shared with the families of the victims and we hope that they can find closure as soon as possible and bodies will be on the train before long and going home. and in terms of what comes next, i think jim got it right, you know. the fact is this is happening in a larger context. none of this would happen without russian involvement. this is not a tragedy that had to happen. this is a tragedy that was manufactured and that is connected to the fact that russia has been training, arming separatists, sending fighters across the border for months now and where we go from here, i mean if we want to see this wind down. putin and the kremlin need to make a decision to stop sending arms across the border and stop
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training people how to use sophisticated weaponry and turn toward peace. he is committing to 40 kilometer radius around the crash site to unilateral cease-fire again. you'll remember he did a full unilateral cease-fire last month for ten days and that was not adhered to by the separatists. now is the time for us to bring this to an end. >> ambassador, u.s. representative to osce, organization for security and cooperation in europe, thank you for joining us. jim sciutto, stand by. we'll get back to you. other news we're following, four days after the malaysian airlines jet was shot out of the sky, world leaders are focusing intently on russia warning vladimir putin of repercussions and evidence of what they suspect was going on in russia. stand by. we'll take a quick break. much more right after this.
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